Leadership Insights: A Conversation with Midland Credit Management President Ryan Bell
We recently sat down with Midland Credit Management (MCM) President Ryan Bell to talk about how the company helps consumers in a challenging economic environment, how it sets itself apart from other companies in the industry, and what makes MCM a great place to start and grow a career. MCM is an operating unit of Encore Capital Group, serving consumers in the United States.
What is MCM’s role in helping consumers in our current economic environment that’s punctuated by high inflation and continued uncertainty?
We know from many indicators, including Encore’s own Economic Freedom Study, that Americans have been feeling the pressure of inflation for some time, and that has an impact on everything from spending on everyday essentials to accumulating past-due debts. At MCM, we’re ready to work with consumers in financial distress by helping them pay off debt, using a tailored plan that works for them. During times of economic uncertainty, we want to be a resource to help consumers get back to economic freedom and stability.
How do you help consumers who may feel stigma around having past-due debt?
At MCM, we emphasize to consumers with past-due debt that they’re not alone. Sometimes people may feel embarrassed or may feel that having debt is a private thing they want to deal with alone. But the truth is, it’s very common.
Ryan Bell, MCM President
What makes MCM different is that we pride ourselves on interacting with all our consumers with respect throughout the process of paying off their past-due debt. We know it can be a tough experience to restore your financial health, and consumers want someone to be helpful, respectful and empathetic throughout their financial recovery journey.
What are some ways that our company Values are uniquely reflected in the way we do business?
The best example of our Values in action is our very first interaction with consumers. Two of our core Values are that ‘we care’ and that ‘we find a better way.’ In that first interaction, we often don’t talk about payment. We want to understand how the consumer got into their current financial situation and how we can help them work their way out of it. We’re going to come up with a plan based on what works for them. Consumers are often taken aback by this, especially if they’ve worked with other companies in the credit and collection industry. MCM is wired differently.
You’ve shared before that you believe everyone should have the opportunity to create a fulfilling and long-lasting career. How do you make that a reality at MCM?
I’m proud that at MCM, we bet on people. We always look internally first for opportunities to let our people take on bigger, broader roles that are outside their comfort zone. Instead of defaulting to look externally for the perfect candidate with exactly the right experience, we say “Jane Doe is an amazing colleague; let’s give her the chance to stretch and try something different.” People surprise you if you give them a chance. For example, a few years ago we elevated a colleague to a new external-facing role that was outside her experience. But she had great people and relationship skills, and we knew those skills would translate well. She wasn’t super confident at first, and I told her there would be bumps in the road, but we were rooting for her. Two or three years later, she’s doing fantastic and hasn’t missed a beat. As managers, we can often get caught up on looking for an exact skillset when there are capable people all around us.
What makes the experience of working at MCM special?
Our third Value, being inclusive and collaborative, is really what makes MCM a special place to have a career. You get to work with extraordinarily talented, dedicated people. It’s not the kind of place where you succeed when someone else fails. We’re a consensus-driven company that’s built on trust. You really feel like you’re working with people, not against them. You’re going to get opportunities to grow and stretch yourself and try new roles you may not have thought you could do. It’s not about having the perfect education or background or experience. It’s about investing in talented people, letting them do their own thing and getting out of their way.
Does having an inclusive and collaborative culture make a difference for consumers?
It’s all connected. If you create an amazing place to work, where people can thrive, you attract — and keep — great talent. Those great people create great consumer experiences. They work hard to make sure our consumers are respected and that we help them. This business doesn’t work as well if our consumers don’t feel respected. We succeed when our consumers succeed.